RCMP launch investigation into death of bullied B.C. teen
The RCMP has launched an investigation into the suicide of a teenaged girl who described the relentless bullying she was being subjected to in a video posted online.
Police in British Columbia announced Friday that a full investigation is underway to examine the circumstances surrounding Amanda Todd’s death. Todd's body was found Wednesday in her Port Coquitlam home following an apparent suicide.
The 15-year-old had reached out for help a few weeks earlier.
In a powerful video that has been viewed tens of thousands of times since it was posted on YouTube last month, Todd shared her story about online bullying, being attacked at school, and her resulting descent into self-harm, suicide attempts, and depression.
The RCMP said investigators will be conducting interviews, scouring social media and reviewing contributing factors into Todd’s death. Police have also set up a designated email account AmandaTODDinfo@rcmp-grc.gc.ca for the public to email tips regarding the case.
Investigators have already said that bullying could have played a role in the teen’s death.
On Friday the B.C. coroner's office said a preliminary investigation confirms that Todd’s death was likely due to suicide.
“B.C. RCMP has publically stated in the past that bullying ranks second, behind substance abuse, for youth issues identified as concerns by our detachments,” said Sgt. Peter Thiessen in a statement.
Coroner Barb McLintock said answers into the teen’s death won't come quickly and the investigation will be complex and comprehensive.
McLintock said the investigation will look into everything from the school and mental health supports that were offered to Todd, as well as the effects of social media bullying and blackmail that Todd said she experienced.
The YouTube video posted by Todd ends with a desperate cry for help: "I have nobody. I need someone. My name is Amanda Todd."
The young woman's death triggered an instant online reaction. The video received hundreds of comments.
More than 250,000 people have “liked” a memorial page on Facebook for Todd as of Friday evening. Many took to Facebook to express their condolences as well as anger over the tragic death.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark recorded a message of condolence, also posted online.
"I just heard about Amanda and I want to say to everyone who loved her, to all her family and friends, how sorry I am about her loss," Clark said in a video message. "No one deserves to be bullied, no one earns it, nobody asks for it, it isn't a rite of passage. Bullying has to stop."
In the original video Todd posted to the Internet, she used flash cards to tell her story.
"I've decided to tell you about my never-ending story," she begins, going on to explain that her troubles began when she was in Grade 7, and would use a webcam to go online with friends to meet new people.
"Then got called stunning, beautiful, perfect etc. They wanted me to flash. So I did..."
One year after posing topless on the webcam, Todd says she was contacted by a male on Facebook, who threatened to post the picture on Facebook if she didn't do what he wished.
The following Christmas, while on school break, the police arrived at her home at 4 a.m. with the news that her photo had been posted on the Internet. From there, Todd says she slipped into depression, developed anxiety and panic disorder. And then her photo once again showed up on Facebook, this time as the profile picture of one of her alleged tormenters.
"I can never get that photo back, it's out there forever," she says in the video.
Todd switched schools more than once, but was never able to escape those who bullied her both online and in person. Eventually, she says, she was beaten up in front of her school while other students recorded the attack.
"Teachers ran over but I just went and layed in a ditch and my dad found me (sic)," she says. "I wanted to die so bad when he brought me home I drank bleach."
The suicide attempt failed, but Todd explains that her nightmare continued as her struggle with cutting and depression grew. The heartbreaking video ends with Todd's desperate plea for help.
Cheryl Quinton, of the Coquitlam School Board, said officials tried to provide the help Todd needed. But she said the challenges of online bullying and social media are complex.
"The district was aware of the video prior to last night and there were supports in place for the student, both at the school and community levels," Quinton told CTV British Columbia.
She added: "It's not a simplistic answer, how you stop bullying. Social media now has added a whole new dimension."
A teenage friend of Todd's said people seem to be paying more attention to the young woman's plight, now that it's too late to do anything to help her.
"It's sad that the world starts listening when someone's already dead," she told CTV British Columbia.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Michele Brunoro